Weekly Update – #22 – Happy Birthday!

Hi everyone, this week I celebrate my 31st birthday. It was bittersweet, since, for the second time this year, our whole family caught a nasty virus. My wife and I put a lot of energy into nursing the twins back to good health and we also caught their germs. This whole things has drained my energy and I’m striving to return to 90% by Monday.

WTF! It’s only February and we’ve been through this common cold thing twice this year. Why is wellness eluding us? It really sets me back and slows me down.

Running

On the running front, I don’t have much to report this week. It was pretty much a zero week for me. After last week’s 10 miler I was feeling good the next few days. I’m happy with the recovery.

Reading

This week I returned to a daily practice: reading a favorite book called The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday. This book is a collection of 366 lessons from Stoic thinkers, and the idea is to read and practice one lesson each day. I keep it near my bed and read it first thing in the morning. Here’s an excerpt I enjoyed, from page 59:

February 19th – THE BANQUET  OF LIFE

“Remember to conduct yourself in life as if at a banquet. As something being passed around comes to you, reach out your hand and take a moderate helping. Does it pass by you? Don’t stop it. It hasn’t yet come? Don’t burn in desire for it, but wait until it arrives in front of you. Act this way with children, a spouse, toward position, with wealth–one day it will make you worth of a banquet with the gods.”

-Epictetus, Enchiridion, 15

The lesson is to be patient, wait for your turn. And also to be humble and generous. Avoid taking too much advantage when it’s your turn, and invite others to join at the bounty table.

I also received a few books as gifts. Thank you friends! I have new titles on my reading list. I’m excited to up-level my leadership skills and my writing style.

  • Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer by Stephanie Capparell and Margot Morrell
  • The Associated Press Stylebook 2019 by The Associated Press

Writing

This week I’m proud to report I finally resumed by work blog called Torrey’s Weekly Report. It had been nagging the back of my mind for months. I realized the core purpose of the project is to share what I’m learning and share what I’m working on, with my work network. It’s very similar to the blog you’re reading now, with a different audience. I realized I’m developing a passion for communications.

This post marks four weeks in a row of weekly posting. Hooray!


This week’s photo is the Goodyear blimp flying over our neighborhood.

Thanks to readers I learned the bird photo I shared last week is of an adult Red-shouldered Hawk. And, the coloring is unique to California.


Thanks for reading and have a great week!

Weekly Update – #21 – President’s Day

Hi I’m Torrey. Each week I write about my experiences with running, reading, and writing. Welcome to my blog!

Can you believe it? The year 2020 is already 13% over. I’m grateful for everything I’ve learned in 2020 so far.

Quote of the week, from James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. This comes from his weekly 3-2-1 email newsletter:

You are richer than 93% of people.

Not in money, but in time. 108 billion people have lived throughout history. 93% of them are dead.

You have what every king and queen, every pharaoh and ruler, every CEO and celebrity of the past would give all their wealth for:

Today.


Running

For running, I ran a total of 15 miles this week. I took a few shorts runs during the week and a longer run on Sunday morning. My long route explored a good chunk of Redondo Beach, California. I paced down some unknown streets and discovered hidden treasures. One of them being the raptor pictured above.

I’ve been working more exploration into my long runs. This week I wanted to head to the beach and then bounce back inland. I ended up at the Redondo Beach Pier, which is a pretty cool place to look around. After reaching the coast I turned around and beelined over to our YMCA branch. I regrouped with my family there, showered off, and then headed out to our next stop. Total mileage for this run: 9.8 miles.

Reading

For reading, I picked up a copy of Edison by Edmund Morris. This book was recommended by one of my favorite authors, Cal Newport. I’ve only glanced at the introduction, but Edison seems like a fascinating character so far. I haven’t read anything else by Morris, but I know he is an award winning author and he penned a trilogy of biographical books about Teddy Roosevelt.

I’m still reading the Gregory Hays translation of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations and The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene. Gotta pick up the pace!

Writing

For writing, this is my third weekly update in a row. And, 155+ people are following the blog. Awesome!

I’ve been thinking about maximizing learning. I have a habit of journaling every night and listing everything I learned during the day. The question I ask myself: is what did I learn today. Some days the list is short, and some days the list is long and varied.

I think there are 2 important aspects of learning: reading and questioning. Reading books opens your mind to ideas new to you. Trying new things requires asking lots of questions.


Thanks for reading! Have a great week. I appreciate all of you for subscribing and leaving comments.


** The photo is a raptor I saw on my run. I thought he was fake until he looked at me and took flight.

Weekly Update – #20 – February 9th, 2020

Hi, I’m Torrey. I’m a runner, a reader, and a writer, among many other things. Each week I take some time to share my experiences running, reading, and writing. Thanks for stopping by.

IMG_1740

This Week

On the running front, my tracking app tells me I ran 11.8 miles this week. No PR’s broken or milestones hit, but I’m happy with the progress and proud to say I’m back in the habit. I realized something during my long Sunday-morning run. I enjoy the experience of exploring new places more than the running itself. Running long distances just enables going new and interesting places, off the beaten path and off road. Repeating the same routes over and over doesn’t bring the same level of enjoyment.

On the reading front, I’m enjoying two books. A lot of my free time has been soaked up by little computer programming side projects in the last few weeks, but I did pick up some books to check out. I continue to practice Ramit Sethi’s book buying policy: if you think about buying a book, just buy it.

Here’s an outstanding excerpt from one of my open books.

“But the greatest battle of all is with yourself–your weaknesses, your emotions, your lack of resolution in seeing things through to the end. You must declare unceasing war on yourself.”

That passage comes from the preface of The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene. The author is known for another similarly titled book The 48 Laws of Power. Greene draws from historical examples to illustrate principles. In this case, 33 different principles to help you think and act strategically. The passage I shared above resonates with me, because it speaks to the question: how many times have I let myself down?

The second book I’m reading is Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, translated by Gregory Hays. Before now I never really thought about how important the translator and translation is. This is probably the third time I’ve tried reading Meditations. The text is so old, it’s in public domain and you can find free ebooks. But, each time I tried reading it I found myself bogged down in the awkward language of the translation. The Gregory Hays translation was recommended by Ryan Holiday and Shane Parrish.

So far, I am not disappointed with this version of Meditations. I’m still making my way through the preface, which provides a summary of Marcus Aurelius’s life. What an awe-inspiring life, from orphan to emperor of Rome, and all the while a humble philosopher. It’s amazing that his meditations have survived through the ages and we can all read them today.

On the writing front, I’ve re-established by weekly writing habit. This update makes 2 weeks in a row of publishing Weekly Updates here on Torrey’s blog. Let’s see how long it can continue. Woot!


Thanks for reading and I hope you have a great week! If you like what I wrote, please follow or subscribe. I enjoy reading and responding to your comments, too.


The photo is a brilliant flower which bloomed in our backyard on the day of Chinese New Year. It’s a happy sign of good luck.


 

Weekly Update – #19 – Super Bowl Sunday

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! Sorry for not posting in a while.

The past few weeks have been hectic. Most of our household caught a virus, work spilled over onto weekends, and we invested a bunch of time in Lunar New Year celebrations — happy year of the rat!

On the running front, I’m behind. I’m still preparing for the Big Sur International Marathon this April. Cold weather and viral infections have thrown a wrench in my training schedule. I’m getting back on track.

On the reading front, I recently enjoyed Sandworm by Andy Greenberg. It is a frightening narrative connecting some of the world’s most devastating cyber attacks and attempts to attribute the attacks to the people behind them. Hint: Eastern European nation state.

I’m also in the middle of reading Jock Willink’s new book titled Leadership Strategy and Tactics. It’s a bit of a rehashing of the principles explained in Extreme Ownership which was also co-authored by Willink. The leadership principle from these books I am thinking most about is “Decentralized Command”.

I’m also really enjoying by Scribd subscription which gives me on demand access to millions of eBooks and audiobooks. If you use my link to sign up for a free 1-month trial, I can also get a free month of Scribd. If you do, thanks for your support!

Via Scribd I discovered “Snapshots” which are like 5-10 minute summaries of great non-fiction books. My favorite one is a summary of the book titled The Productivity Project. The ideas in this book build on David Allen’s Getting Things Done.

On the writing front, I haven’t done much at all. In fact, I feel a daily pang of regret that I haven’t posted here or continued my work-blog. I still think about and see rampant gaps in communications. There is a lot going on, a lot more than is talked about. Every week I tell myself to write more, and then I allow other things to get in the way. Brutal truth!

Thanks for reading! See you next week. Please follow or subscribe. I love to read and respond to your comments, too.

Wrapping up 2019, Superhuman 2020

Hi Team, I wanted to take one last opportunity to share some thoughts before the year closes.


At the end of 2019, there are more options than ever for endless entertainment. Binging TV shows on demand, video games, scrolling social media, junk food, etc. The path of least resistance leans heavily toward consumption and away from creation. Doing work and creating art is fulfilling. The path of least resistance is not fulfilling. In the 2020s, people who exercise willpower, avoid distraction, and focus their attention will appear more and more superhuman.


Today I was pruning the rose bushes in front of our house. The activity reminds me of my favorite blog post from 2018: The Rose Bush Metaphor: How to deal with too many ideas and too little time. In the past few weeks I’ve been digitally pruning, too. I call that effort Unsubscribe from Everything. I try to cut out low-value email. What remains is a few select blogs from authors I respect. I let them into my inbox because I trust the content is always high quality. I can take a 10 minute break to read and digest one of these blogs.

Speaking of blogs, I was struck by the wisdom of Mr. Money Mustache in his recent post titled Let the Roaring 2020s Begin. He succinctly describes timeless wisdom he has personally lived during the past decade.

1) This Too Shall Pass: nothing is as big a deal as you think it is at the time. Angry or sad emotions from life traumas will fade remarkably quickly, but so will the positive surprises from one-time life upgrades through the sometimes-bummer magic of Hedonic Adaptation. What’s left is just you – no matter where you go, there you are.
2) But You Are Really Just a Bundle of Habits: most of your day (and therefore your life) is comprised of repeating the same set of behaviors over and over. The way you get up, the things you focus your mind on. Your job. The way you interact with other people. The way you eat and exercise. Unless you give all of this a lot of mindful attention and work to tweak it, it stays the same, which means your life barely changes, which means your level of happiness barely changes.
3) Change Your Habits, Change your Life: Because of all this, the easiest and best way to have a happier and more satisfying life is to figure out what ingredients go into a good day, and start adding those things while subtracting the things that create bad days. For me (and quite possibly you, whether you realize it or not), the good things include positive social interactions, helping people, outdoor physical activity, creative expression and problem solving, and just good old-fashioned hard work. The bad things mostly revolve around stress due to over-scheduling one’s life, emotional negativity and interpersonal conflict – all things I am especially sensitive to.

Mr. Mustache’s words hit home. I had just been thinking about how important habits are and skills are. The thought also reverberates some of my favorite books from 2019 including Ryan Holiday’s Stillness is the Key and James Clear’s Atomic Habits. These are both worth re-reading while thinking about the year ahead. I think we can all use more stillness in 2020. And, habits are way more powerful than New Year’s resolutions.


The twins are three years old now, and I’m trying to spend as much time as possible with them and my wife, when I’m not at work. I don’t think it’s possible to feel like I’ve spent too much time with them.

Outside of family and work, my 2019 was filled with running, reading and writing. I don’t expect this to change in 2020. I will work on the balance. Sometimes I feel pangs if regret for not pushing myself more in one or all of these areas. These activities are key for me for health of mind body and spirit.

The first half of my 2019 was strong. I ran my first half marathon (13.1 mi), turned 30 years old, and also ran my first marathon (26.2 mi). In April I was probably in better physical shape than all of my 20s. While struggling to maintain that level now, I managed to finish 2 more half marathons later in the year, the Seawheeze Virtual Half Marathon and the PV Half Marathon (I mentioned in the last post). Now I’m preparing for my next challenge, the Big Sur Marathon, next April. For me, the races are an effective way to motivate me to keep up the running habit. And race day is a lot of fun 😀.


Happy New Year! and thank you for reading. I appreciate all and any feedback. Please help me out, subscribe and leave comments.

Weekly Update – #18 – PV Half Marathon Approaches & Non-fiction Reading Updates

Hi everyone, I missed a month and a half of updates. I’m back!

Running

I registered for the Palos Verdes half marathon months ago intending to train for it starting months ago. Didn’t happen. The race is this coming Saturday, November 16th.

Two weeks ago the fear started brewing. Immediately after daylight savings kicked in, I kicked it into a higher gear. 6am runs every day while the family is still asleep. Some mornings are cold enough to put on running gloves, and some of them are spooky foggy. I managed to accumulate 31.4 miles in the last 8 days.

View from the hill overlooking Manhattan Beach

I probably won’t set a personal best in the PV Half, but I want to finish the race and still be able to move the next day. Feeling okay about that, not afraid anymore. Wish me luck on Saturday!

Reading

I recently read a few books.

Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday. This is not a meditation book. It’s a study of how ancient eastern and western philosophers thought about peace of mind, body, and spirit. It includes tons of stories past and present to show what stillness and lack-of-stillness looks like.

The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. This is a business leadership book. It’s about leading in a way that’s highly sustainable, such that the business can run forever, and keep going once you’re gone.

Contrast infinite games with finite games. Chasing your competition seeking to “win” a game that doesn’t really end. Learning and fitness are infinite games. You don’t really “win” at learning or fitness.

I think thinking in infinite time frames is useful. How would you approach relationships differently and if you want the relationship to stay strong forever? You Might make business decisions differently if your goal is to sustain the business for the next 7 generations. Teams that think and act this way are often highly successful.

Getting Things Done by David Allen. This book is a little dated, 90’s. It’s a productivity book and it talks a lot about systems for filing and organizing paper records. It talks a little about email. I think the principles are still relevant.

For example, it talks about getting your to do list out of your head and into a system like email or an app. The idea is your brain better serves as a thinking machine, not an information storage machine. And if you use it’s cycles to try to remember a bunch of little things, you are doing it a disservice. Get all the junk out of your head, into your todo list app and calendar app. This principle is something I’ve been practicing, and it’s effective.


Thanks for reading and see you next time. I’ll let you know how the PV Half goes.

September 2019 Reading Update

Image source: Pixabay

Hi everyone, just wanted to provide a quick update on my reading.

I have started a new strategy. I have this long spreadsheet listing every book I bought. I am going back and reading all the books I bought and never finished reading. Some of them I never event started. This list is called my reading backlog.

Recently I finished reading a few titles which I recommend:

  1. The Everything Store by Brad Stone
  2. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

The Everything Store is an unofficial telling of the Amazon.com story. It’s a few years out-of-date but it does cover the origins of Kindle and Amazon Web Services. I was not old enough to experience the drama of the dotcom boom and bust, so I really enjoyed those parts.

The Lean Startup is a must read for software professionals. I’m not sure why I put it off so long. This book changed the way I think about multiple aspects of my job. And I’m recommending it to peers who haven’t read it.

Now, I’m working my way through Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography titled Total Recall. I haven’t gotten far but it is interesting to see what it was like living in post-WWII Austria.

I think reading is one of the best ways to increase income. There is millions of dollars worth of knowledge sitting on bookshelves.

Here’s the rest of my reading backlog. 29 titles and growing. At my current pace this will take 1-2 years to burn through.

Dotcom SecretsRussel Brunson
Beyond Band of BrothersDick Winters
QEDRichard Feynman
Thomas JeffersonJohn Meacham
Search Inside YourselfTan, Goleman, Kabat-Zinn
TribesSeth Godin
The Ten Faces of InnovationKelley, Littman
Napoleon: A LifeAndrew Roberts
The Power of MythJoseph Campbell
Rise of the YoupreneurChris Ducker
48 Laws of PowerRobert Greene
Anti-FragileTaleb
UnshakeableTony Robbins
SapiensYuval Harari
Homo DeusYuval Harari
21 Lessons for the 21st CenturyYuval Harari
JRR Tolkien : A BiographyHenry Carpenter
Washington: A LifeRon Chernow
HamiltonRon Chernow
GrantRon Chernow
Fooled By RandomnessNN Taleb
The Black SwanNN Taleb
The Bed of ProcrustesNN Taleb
Anti-FragileNN Taleb
Skin in the GameNN Taleb
An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist.Richard Dawkins
Getting Things DoneDavid Allen
Stillness Is The KeyRyan Holiday
The Infinite GameSimon Sinek

Weekly Update – #17 – Finally Running Updates!

After a wild summer, running is starting to make it’s way back into my routine. This is my first update since June 30th, 2019.

Plumeria flowers (our garden)

Before high school I did a little bit of track and field, competing in the long jump event. In high school, most of my athletic energy was focused on marching band. That interest faded in college, and nothing really took it’s place. Several years passed until 2018, the year I started taking running seriously. Around August 2018 I committed by signing myself up for the Conqur LA Challenge, a set of 3 races of increasing distance, starting with 10K and concluding with the LA Marathon. I finished that marathon race in March, 2019.

For this season, I’ve signed up for three new events:

The first race already finished. I struggled my way through 13.1 miles for the SeaWheeze Virtual Half Marathon. This is how it works. I chose my own route. I ran and I recorded the activity with the Strava app. Once I finished the run and uploaded it to Strava, I was notified of my position relative to other runners. In 6-10 weeks a medal will arrive by mail. Weird!

A slow pace, but a finish nonetheless.

I was not nearly as well prepared for this race as my last half marathon. And I didn’t have the boost that comes with race day adrenaline, since I was on my own. It took me 3 hours to finish. I kind of miss the buzz of energy that usually comes with race day. It’s really fun to be part of a big pack of runners. It just wasn’t the same running by myself.

Actifit says it took me 24,000+ steps to go 13.1 miles.

A few days after SeaWheeze I am still sore. I regret skipping the usual Epsom salts bath. Other recovery methods don’t seem to be as effective. Word to the wise.

I have a few months to ramp up and prepare for the Palos Verdes half marathon in November. I’m looking forward to it. Let’s go!


Hi, I’m Torrey. Welcome to my blog. If you’re new here, I document my running experiences to help new runners learn about running. If you find the information useful, please consider ^^^following/reblogging/liking^^^

Running to Work in Summer Heat – Update #16

Hi I’m Torrey, this is my blog where I document my experiences as a runner , a reader, a writer and a thinker. It’s been four weeks since my last post, and I owe you guys an update. Sorry!

In this update:

  • Running to Work in California Summer Heat
  • Reading A Guide to the Good Life
  • Writing and Publishing the 22nd edition of Torrey’s Weekly Report
  • Thinking about Reducing Friction for Healthy Habits

Running to work in California Summer Heat

This month, I resumed running to work. I decided to alternate between biking and running. My bike route goes along the beach while my run route goes through LAX. I would much rather run along the beach but it’s 6 miles extra and it takes too long. So, LAX it is!

According to Strava I traveled 11.21 miles on foot. According to Actifit I took 20,148 steps to get there.

Strava stats for Commute Run #10.
Screenshot of Actifit snapped upon arrival. 20,148 steps.

The last time I did this run was March. There is a huge difference between March weather and June weather. June is hot and my island shorter-distance route doesn’t have much of a coastal breeze.


Reading A Guide to the Good Life

Since my last update I’ve been reading a couple books. I’ll share some notes from one of them I’m enjoying.

The book is called A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine. I’m just getting started with this book, but I like the concepts so far. First, Irvine covers a psychology concept called hedonistic adaption. To understand this concept imagine someone craving a fancy, new car. Once the car is brought home, happiness from the new car quickly fades and a new, often more expensive, desire sets in. The mind adapts to material pleasure and then seeks out some new pleasure. Hence, hedonistic adaptation, it makes us all miserable. The same idea applies to personal achievements like running a marathon.

The solution is to want what we already have. The way to do this is to remind yourself daily that you can lose everything you have, including your home, your relationships and your life. Visualizing loss of what we hold dear is a forcing function for counteracting hedonistic adaptation. It helps us not take things for granted. Stoic practitioners are known for creating daily (or more frequent), morbid reminders that say something like “you are going to die”. Talk about sense of urgency!

The second interesting concept is internalization of goals as a mechanism for focusing on things inside our Circle of Influence. I’ve talked about the Circle of Influence before in How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others. The idea here is about setting goals where you have 100% control of the outcome.

For example, let’s say you are runner entering a 5K race. Your goal could be to earn a top 3 finish. This is an external goal, because you cannot control the outcome. You cannot control the weather, the other runners, and a hundred other variables. If you realize you have fallen far behind the top three, you will get discouraged knowing your goal slips out of reach.

An internalized goal would be to run the race to the best of your ability, to give it your all. You would be un-phased by your competition, and you’ll likely earn a better overall finishing rank because you won’t be discouraged. I call this idea Compete Against Yourself.

There are many chapters left to get through, and you can see I’ve already learned a lot from this great book. Shout to to Derik Sivers and Tim Ferriss who recommended this book during a podcast on the Tim Ferriss Show.


Writing and Publishing the 22nd edition of Torrey’s Weekly Report

This week I published the 22nd edition of Torrey’s Weekly Report, the weekly blog where I share knowledge and exciting news with my peers and colleagues.

I have settled on a sustainable and consistent schedule of publishing bi-weekly (once every two weeks). This schedule is working well (except for the obvious conflict with the blog’s name).

This week I shared a technology update, some SQL knowledge I recently gained, and a book review. I’m excited to publish report #23 in two weeks!


Thinking about Reducing Friction for Healthy Habits

I’ve been thinking about reducing friction for healthy habits, and increasing friction for unhealthy habits.

For example this month I started keeping a gym bag at work at all times. The bag contains a towel, change of clothes, shower shoes, extra shoes, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. Having the bag ready each day, even though I may not need it, reduces friction. There’s less planning required to do one of my bike or run commutes. I can decide to do so any day of the week and there’s less reasons to say no. I’ve reduced friction between me and the healthy habit.

Similarly I’ve implemented a practice of having drinking water in front of me at all times, even if I’m not thirsty or I don’t think I need it. Doing this has dramatically increased the amount of water I drink. Because I’ve removed the friction, the healthy habit becomes super easy.

The same thing works in reverse. You can insert friction to curb unhealthy habits. Hiding the TV remote in your closet or trashing the chocolate chip cookies creates friction and makes it harder to maintain those habits. Spending way too much time on social media? Delete the app from your phone every day and reinstall it when you really need it.

What do you think?


Thanks for reading and as always,

Have a great week!

Passion Fruit vine flower in my backyard.

Bike to Work – Lessons Learned

Weekly Update – #16 – June 2nd, 2019

This is a weekly blog where I share updates and document my journey. I focus on four areas: fitness, reading, writing and thinking. In the past, for the fitness category, I have written mostly about running. I am beginning to focus on cycling this week. After a month-and-half of talking about it, I rode my bike to work, finally!

It’s my bike! with a little New Belgium Brewing plaque.

Fitness

This week I had a great conversation with a coworker about preparing for a half marathon. I’m no expert, but I wanted to share some of the ideas with you.

Q: How long did it take you to prepare for the half marathon?

A: It took me 4 months to ramp up to half marathon distance. In training before the race I ran a maximum of 11 miles. This was a mistake, because mile 12 and 13 were the most challenging 2 miles of the whole race. Lesson learned: train the full distance.

Q: Do you have any other advice for someone considering training for a half marathon or a marathon?

A: Talk to your family early. Carving out a few hours per week for training means taking time from somewhere else. You family is your support team and they may need to do extra work to support you. Be up front about the time commitment, and look for ways to get everyone involved. They will meet you at the finish line!

Back on the Bike!

It’s been over a year since I last sat in the saddle. I talked about biking to work for over a month, and other stuff kept getting in the way. This week I finally hopped on my bike! There were some hiccups (as expected) which turned the 90-minute ride into a learning experiences.

When I ran to work I travelled very light. I was able to do this leaving my laptop and my gym bag under my desk. It just required some extra planning ahead. On a bicycle you have the luxury of storage! So you pack everything up and jump on the bike in the spur of the moment.

Getting Ready

I have 2 Nashbar saddle bags that clip on to the back of my bike. I filled one with clothes, towel, and other essentials. In the other bag I shoved in my whole laptop bag. I did this because I was worried about damaging the laptop, and wanted extra protection. This added a lot of extra weight. I think a better strategy is to wear a backpack or leave the laptop at the office the night before.

The Ride

I rode my usual running route. For the first 5 miles I was fighting traffic lights and rush-hour traffic. I think for next time I will seek out a more bike-friendly road (with a bike lane). Some drivers just get too close for comfort.

The last 12-ish miles were sublime. I was right on the beach from Manhattan Beach to Marina Del Rey. And from the marina to the office it’s along a dedicated bike path.

What Went Wrong and What I Learned

Several learning opportunities arose from this trip. I’ll go into more detail below. First, here’s a short list of what went wrong:

  1. Rush hour traffic and no bike lane
  2. Saddle bag fell off
  3. Unintentional braking
  4. Forgot to turn on fitness tracker
  5. Forgot to pack shower shoes

The first five miles of my route were packed with traffic lights and heavy traffic. I can experiment a bit here to look for an alternative road that has bike lanes. Wide pickup trucks were too close for comfort. Lesson learned: seek dedicated bike lanes.

I packed too heavy. Around mile 13-14, I accidentally kicked my starboard bag and it fell off completely. Luckily this was the bag with clothes. I could experiment with this to find a better way to attach it, or switch to front-wheel bags. Lesson learned: pack light.

Unintentional braking is tricky to explain. I took a break during the ride, and when I parked my bike I inserted a wedge into the front brake handle to freeze the front wheel. Then, I put two earbuds in my ears to make a phone call. I kept the earbuds in when I resumed my ride, listening to a podcast.

About a mile down the road I thought: why am I struggling so much? Then I heard the brake noise. And then the thought: What the heck is wrong with my front brake? … Stupid me had forgotten to remove the wedge I had stuck in the front brake handle. Laughable! Lesson learned: double check your brakes for an enjoyable ride.

After I crested the final hill in front of the office, I coasted in towards the front door. I slowly stepped off my bike and question popped in my head: how far did I go and how long did it take? Only then I realized I had forgotten to enable Strava to track the activity. I also have a bike computer hiding somewhere which could measure speed and distance. Time to dig that out. Lesson learned: double check you started your fitness tracker.

When I went to shower off I found that I had everything I needed, except for shower shoes. Oops! This is not ideal for many reasons which I won’t get into. I have done something similar once where I forgot my towel. I think the no-towel situation is worse, maybe. Lesson learned: double check you packed shower shoes and a towel.

I realized that I really enjoy trying new things, and then looking for ways to make it more fun and convenient, through experimentation and iteration. I’ve had a lot of fun writing about this experience. Lesson learned: try new things and constantly experiment.


Reading

I’ve been enjoying a book I did not expect to get into. It is called Street Smarts by Jim Rogers. The dude has a lot of interesting stories from living in Manhattan, working on Wall Street, and moving his family to Singapore.

I’m also reading a little Mouse Book called The Blue Hotel by Stephen Crane. Crane is a a Civil War era writer who died from tuberculosis at the age of 28. Despite his short life he produced well known literary works including his well-known novel The Red Badge of Courage. He was an innovative writer in his time.


Writing

It’s been a very busy week. I did a little bit of writing. I did not publish anything since last weekend’s Weekly Update #15.


Thinking

I stopped thinking and started doing. There were plenty of reasons to not take the bike-commute plunge. I had already put it off for a month (I first mentioned the idea in Weekly Update – #13 – April 14th, 2019). I was congested with a head cold all week. The week was unusually over-scheduled. The weather was not great. The bike needed air in its tires and chain maintenance.

BUT, all that aside, it is done! And I want to make it a weekly routine.

What have you been thinking about doing for a while? When are you going to take the leap?


As always, thanks for reading, and

Have a great week!